Part 4 - Stavanger
Part 4 - Stavanger
We’d only reach the port of Stavanger later in the morning. So this was another morning with enough time for an easy breakfast, which we had at the dining room for a change. For breakfast, the dining room offers a mix of a la carte (e. g. Eggs Benedict) and a self-service buffet. Coffee, tea etc. are served at the table.
The late arrival at the destination allowed us to watch the passage into Stavanger from the upper deck, passing many small islands and beautiful landscapes. We were lucky – again - and blessed with gorgeous weather.
For Stavanger we had booked a boat excursion to Lysefjord. It wasn’t cheap but highly recommended. Meeting point was at the theater, where everybody would get a number according to their respective excursions. Those were called when they were ready to leave. This was the typical procedure on the other days, too. You might sit waiting in the theater for a few minutes, but in turn the gangways aren’t blocked and you swiftly make your way ashore.
When our number was called, we obediently followed a guide to our excursion boat, together with two Texan ladies (mother and daughter) from our lovely group at dinner. Instead of the “modern catamaran” which was advertised in the tour description, we were taken to one of the many ferries we had already seen around. We didn’t seem to be the only ones thinking this ferry would take us to the actual boat – nope. When we were all standing on board, pretty much squashed, and realized we were heading for the fjord, we understood: this is it.
This really wouldn’t have been a problem, had this ship not been designed for anything but a 4-hour excursion with a large number of passengers. Now, many, many people were standing squeezed on the far too small outer decks. In addition, there were only a few seats outside. Obviously, the spots with a view at the railing were fiercely contested. Inside, there were a few rooms with seat rows, but the fjord happened to be outside. Around us we heard many fellow passengers expressing their discontent. Well, we swallowed our first anger and made the best of the situation…
The ride went past beautiful landscapes, salmon farms etc. into the fjord. The sight propitiated us the further we went along. I think the following pictures speak for themselves.
So we cruised all the way to the Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen). The Pulpit Rock is a natural platform with a size of approximately 25 x 25 meters (80 x 80 ft.). From as high as 600 meters (1970 ft.) the edge falls almost vertically into the fjord. In addition, you have to imagine that this steep wall continues just as far down below the water surface.
Under these masses, it was easy to lose the sense of size and proportions. Zooming in, you could see that the small dots, hardly visible at the edge of the spur, were actually people who had walked all the way up.
The boat stopped directly underneath the rock and slowly turned around, while some dramatic music was being played via the speakers before we started to make our way back to Stavanger.
Close to the shore we were able to see a few of the animals inhabiting this remote area.
On the way back, the seat situation on deck was much better. Waffles were being served inside, and most people stayed there to eat them.
Back in Stavanger we decided to stroll along the little town before we went back on board. With its many small alleys, the area around the harbor was basically an invitation to do so.
By the way, during our walk we found that there were many local tour operators offering tours to Lysefjord in actual tour boats (see photo of the port). Later, on the internet, I found out they were offered at around EUR 50.00.
When we were getting nearer to the all aboard time, we leisurely went back to the ship. We had something to ask at the Guest Services Desk, and Birgit mentioned on a side note that we weren’t fully satisfied with our excursion because of the inadequate boat. That was the first and only time with Royal Caribbean that I was unhappy with their service. By means of sullen and averting answers the lady behind the desk made it clear to us that she didn’t have the slightest interest in the concerns of the passengers. So be it, I was disappointed rather than angry about her behavior and let it be. We didn’t want to let this spoil our otherwise beautiful day.
The following day, when we met with a Crown & Anchor representative to talk about a stateroom reservation on our next cruise, we came to talk about the disappointing behavior of her colleague. Apparently, she had already had various complaints about this particular person and apologized. With regards to the tour she explained that on that day some 400 guests had booked the boat excursion to Lysefjord, which is why the operator had to resort to this ferry. Unfortunately, they only understood from the complaints afterward that bigger didn’t necessarily mean more adequate. This lady was so friendly and willing, that we were fully reconciled again.
But back to our evening: Full of all the impressions of the day we headed for the sauna and the Thermal Suite, for which we had bought the weekly pass. Relaxing on the heated loungers we watched the landscape go by through the large panoramic windows and enjoyed life.
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